Ralph Larmann

Art Department

University of Evansville


Introduction to the Visual Arts, ART 105, Spring 2006

Evaluation Paper example




Evaluation Paper: "Package on Radio Flyer Wagon" by Christo

Form: Study of "Package on Radio Flyer Wagon" is a piece of Pop Art by Christo. The overall composition of the piece is balanced in that Christo drew scaling lines throughout the piece. These lines take up much of the negative space behind and around the actual wagon. In fact those lines, which he used to scale his work, proportion the piece on every side, and are accompanied by the title to finish the border at the top of work. These lines guide the viewer's eyes to the wagon placed at the lower portion of the piece. From that low vantage point of the piece the viewer follows the actual lines to the end of the wagon body and furthermore follow the implied lines to the right side of the piece and ultimately to a horizon line. This horizon line in broken in the middle of the piece by the package and the handle of the wagon. The actual and implied line of the handle, lead the viewer to a wheel and a diagonal line. That line then leads back to the border and the visual dance around the work starts all over.

The subject matter in this piece is the wagon and the "package" within the wagon. The shape of the wagon has a great deal of realism but the lack of saturation in the colors proves dishonest to a real wagon. Apart from being realistic the wagon is very geometrically shaped. The body of the wagon is very rectilinear, while the wheels are circular and maintain their scale despite their visibility and dimensions within the piece. The steep diagonal of the wagon's steering bar attracts the viewer's attention to the middle of the piece, where it can be seen that the steering bar detaches from the work. It departs from the rim of the wagon to bridge over a section of fabric (the package), and then reattaches to the work in the form of a handle. This overlap of mixed media brings greater notice to the package itself. The package is made of a fabric material, that surfaces from the piece the wagon is drawn on. One can see an incision in the bed of the wagon where the fabric is fed through, giving the work three dimensionality, and the viewer the illusion that the package is sitting in the wagon.

Context: Christo Javacheff was born in Bulgaria on June13, 1935, which coincidently was the same day as his future wife. He studied fine arts such as sculpture, painting, and stage design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia, Bulgaria. He moved to Paris in 1958 where he met his wife Jeanne- Claude. (3) Christo began to format works in the techniques that would make him famous: wrapping and earthworks. Christo started off by wrapped tins, and other small objects and then in 1960 Christo took a brief intermission from his art to enjoy the birth of his son Cyril, who instead of taking his birth name of Javacheff took on the last name Christo. (2) However, it wasn't long after the birth of his son that Christo started to work on his art, not just on projects but on moving up the scale of his projects, taking on objects and assemblages of bigger sizes and quantities. In 1961 he released his assemblage of oil drums in Cologne, entitled "Dockside Packages". (1)

After producing a few more medium scale pieces Christo and his family moved to New York in 1964. Starting off in New York Christo first produced "store fronts, and store windows," but he wanted to move onto even bigger subjects and did he ever. (3) In 1968 he produced his first "wrapped" building, the "Wrapped Kunsthalle Berne" in Switzerland. This building was a Swiss art museum that was celebrating its 15 anniversary. To commemorate the museum housed a show of environmental works, done by 12 different artists. As one of the 12 artists Christo accompanied by Jeanne- Claude presented their work by wrapping the entire building! "We took the environments by eleven other artists," Christo remarked with amusement, "and packaged them. We had our whole environment inside." The project consisted of 27,000 square feet of fabric, 10,000 feet of rope, took approximately 6 days and was viewable only 7 days. (3)

Christo continued to travel around the world wrapping buildings and objects, but he wouldn't return to the states again until 1970 when he started on a project in Rifle, Colorado. This project took approximately 2 years to complete and 142,000 square feet of woven, orange nylon fabric. On August 10, 1972 Christo, 35 construction workers and a number of local students and volunteers, finished one of Christo's most short-lived pieces, "Valley Curtain." Approximately 28 hours after the completion of the 2 year long project a gale of strong wind made it necessary for the group to start tearing the project down. (3)

After the removal of this piece Christo left the states again and journeyed to Italy to unveil a piece there called "The Wall", but after that it was back to the states again and working on projects in states such as Missouri, and Florida. Perhaps Christo's most widely known earthwork in the states stretched the length of 2 counties in California. This piece required 240,000 square yards of nylon material, 2,050 wooden posts, the labor and enthusiasm of some 300 students, and mile upon mile of wire. The project raised many concerns with environmentalists and as a result nearly all of the $2 million dollars needed to complete the project went to legal fees. And after all that the project was only viewable for 2 weeks. This project was called, "Running Fence." (4)

Another widely-known earthwork by Christo in the states (well technically in the states) was located off the coast of Miami in 1983. This work was called "Surrounded Islands." It was located in Biscayne Bay, and consisted of "6.5 million square feet of pink woven polypropylene fabric covering the surface of the water, floating and extending out 61 meters (200 feet) from each island into the Bay." (3)

One of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's latest works of art is in again called, "The Wall." This piece is located inside Gasometer in Oberhausen, Germany. "The Wall" is made up of 13,000 brightly colored oil barrels, (a traditional object used in the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude.) This wall is 85 feet tall, 223 feet wide and 24 feet in depth. "The Wall" was viewable approximately 6 months. (3)

Christo and Jeanne-Claude are not artists of the past but very much of the future. They have just been given approval from the mayor of New York to do a project in Central Park called, "The Gates." The project is expected to debut in February of 2005 and last approximately 16 days. Another work in progress is called, "Over the River."
"During August 1992, '93 and '94, Christo and Jeanne-Claude traveled 22,530 kilometers (14,000 miles) in the United States part of the Rocky Mountains in search of a site for the project. During those trips the team prospected eighty-nine rivers in the Rocky Mountains, in seven states, and six possible locations were found. After visiting the six sites again during the summer of 1996 the Arkansas River in Colorado was selected." (3)

The project will consist of a translucent fabric hung about 10 feet, horizontally, over the river, following its winding path the approximate 7 miles of its length. Construction dates have yet to be set. (3)

Projects of the magnitude that Christo and Jeanne-Claude produce require money, and neither Christo nor Jeanne-Claude will accept donations of any sort. They raise the much needed money to fund these projects by selling preliminary drawings, sketches, collages, scale models, and studies of upcoming pieces and earthworks. (3) An earthwork is defined as, "A work of art in which large amounts of earth or land are shaped into a sculpture." (4) Earthworks are not a new form of art. Earthworks have been seen as early as Stonehenge, but a contemporary style of Earthwork was introduced in the 60's "as something of a literal return to nature". (4) It seems that Christo has gone beyond that. He places his works IN nature. He doesn't mold the earth as seen in "Spiral Jetty", by Robert Smithson. In fact, when his projects are done most if not all of the materials are recycled.(3)

Content: The study of "Package on Radio Flyer Wagon" caught my attention because it was a subject matter that I could relate to. When I saw the piece in the art museum it brought back the memories I have of being a child and playing with that type of wagon. The only way that I can think of how to describe this is detailed simplicity. The simplicity of the drawing itself reminded me of how something as simple as a wagon could mean so much to a child, and the detail used reiterated the importance of the wagon because of how it just stood out. The simple palette that Christo used meant to me that the wagon didn't need to have gadgets, bright colors and decals, or loud noises erupting from it, but just the wagon with something as simple as a teddy bear covered in cloth could be the best toy a child ever received. The plainness of the background of the study made the wagon really pop out at me. It seemed to come alive on the paper. There are sketch and measurement marks around the entire piece but the wagon stands alone on the inside of that all with its wheels on the plain ground. The piece spoke to me that simplicity can be sweet, it can be rewarding, and not to take anything for granted.


1. .11/03/04.
2. Staudek, Tom. "Christo". 11/03/04.
3. Church, Joe. "Christo and Jeanne-Claude". 2003.11/05/04.
4. Rathus-Ficher, Lois. Understanding Art. Seventh Edition. 2004.Pg. 203/204
5. Troghton, Rose. "Christo". Artswold. 11/06/04


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